‘She said, I will go after my lovers … Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns … that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers … but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.’ Hosea 2:5–7
Suggested Further Reading: Jeremiah 3:1–25
By the mouth of Jeremiah God speaks these words—‘Turn … for I am married unto you.’ I do not know anything which should make the backslider’s heart break like the doctrine of God’s immutable love to his people. Some say that if we preach that ‘whom once he loves he never leaves, but loves them to the end,’ it will be an inducement to man to sin. Well, I know man is very vile, and he can turn even love itself into a reason for sinning, but where there is as much as even one spark of grace, a man cannot do that. A child does not say, ‘I will offend my father because he loves me;’ it is not even in fallen nature generally, unless inspired by the devil to find motives for sin in God’s love, and certainly no backsliding child of God can say ‘I will continue in sin that grace may abound.’ They who do so show that they are reprobates, and their damnation is just. But the backslider, who is a child of God at the bottom, will, I think, feel no cord so strong to hold him back from sin as this. Backslider, I hope it will also be a golden chain to draw you to Christ. Jesus meets you, meets you this morning. You were excommunicated. You were driven out from among God’s people with shame, but Jesus meets you, and pointing to the wounds which he received in the house of his friends at your hands, he nevertheless says, ‘Turn … for I am married unto you.’ It is a relationship which you have broken, and it might legally be broken for ever if he willed it; but he does not will it, for he hates to put away. You are married to Jesus. Come back to your first husband, for he is your husband still!
Sermon no. 590
18 September (1864)